Just breathe. It’s so simple, but so powerful. An entire day can go by without taking a conscious breath. It’s not something we really have to think about or be aware of. However, bringing awareness to our breath can have amazing benefits.
When we are tense, stressed, anxious or angry our breathing can become more shallow and less healing. Taking a few deep conscious breaths can calm the parasympathetic nervous system, slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and even sharpen your focus. It really is an amazing tool available to us all the time, everywhere we go.
Take a moment now to slow down, sit quietly and breathe. Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat a few times.
Breathe in, calm your body.
Breathe out, smile and relax.
Teaching our Children to Breathe
Teaching our children to breathe provides them with a simple but effective lifelong tool. By learning strategies to slow down and notice how they’re feeling they can learn to relax. Subsequently, they will be better prepared to face overwhelming emotions and challenges life brings their way.
When your child is anxious or upset taking a few moments to breathe with them can help them calm down. Once they are settled they will be better prepared to talk about the situation. It can be as simple as quietly asking them to breathe with you – slowly in and out – until they start to calm. And, even if they aren’t interested in breathing with you at the moment, the calming breaths you take will help you to feel better.
Practicing mindful breathing at home can be a lot of fun. In addition it will give your child a “toolkit” for times when confronted with life’s challenges, a meltdown, or anxiety before a test at school.
That’s the beauty of our breathe – it’s with us everywhere we go!
Here are a few of our favorite breathing techniques to try:
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers. Open the right nostril and exhale through this side. Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril. Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side. This is one cycle. Continue for up to 5 minutes.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Great Big Sigh
Sit in easy seat, legs crossed and take a long breath in through your nose and let out a great big sigh. Repeat as many times as you like.
Hold one palm open in front of you and trace your open fingers with the index finger of the opposite hand as you breathe.
Take a long breath in as you trace up your thumb, and a long breath out as you trace down the other side. Continue to breathe in as you trace up your index finger and exhale as you trace down your index finger. Continue to inhale up and exhale down as you trace each of your fingers.
Imitate animals & Insects
Take a deep breath in and let it all go with a big open mouthed lions breath – Open your eyes wide, stick out your tongue and let out a big roar!
Bumble Bee Breath
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed, breath in through your nose, then with fingers in your ears breathe out through your nose as you hmmmm out your exhalation. Blocking the ears makes it easier for young children to bring their focus inward. The long exhale of the humming breath is very calming.
Or imagine how a bear might breathe as he settles in to hibernate for winter with long slow “bear breaths” in and out through your nose.
Use a Prop
The Hoberman Sphere
One of our favorite props is the Hoberman Sphere. It’s a perfect visual to breathe in as it expands and breathe out as it collapses. They are available in a variety of sizes and it’s a popular breathing tool for all ages.
Take a long breath in through your nose, and slowly breathe out through your mouth as you watch your pinwheel spin – it’s mesmerizing.
Everyone loves bubbles! Grab some bubble wands and head outside. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly blowing the bubbles out. Take time to slow down and practice being mindful as you watch the bubbles float away.
Use Your Imagination
Imagine you are holding a candle – take a long breath in through your nose and slowly breathe out making your candle flame flicker without blowing out the flame. Repeat several times. Now blow out your candle.
Lie on your back and pretend you are walking on the ceiling. Now make your legs strong like birthday candles and blow out the candles.
Or.. Have a friend turn their legs into birthday candles for you to blow out. Take turns!
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed and pretend to hold an imaginary flower. What color is your flower? Breath in through your nose as you smell your flower and blow gently out your mouth making the petals flutter.
Or… Head out side and smell the real flowers.